By Howard Mintz, San Jose Mercury News
The federal jury’s mixed verdict in the latest patent showdown between Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. was not intended to send a broader message in the smartphone wars, the jury foreman said Monday.
In the end, although the jury ordered Samsung to pay about $120 million for copying some of Apple’s iPhone technology, the panel simply did not agree with Apple’s view that it was entitled to more than $2 billion for patent violations, jurors said Monday after putting finishing touches on their verdict.
“We didn’t feel either one was fair and just compensation,” Thomas Dunham, the foreman of the eight-member jury, said of the vastly different damages figures given to them by Apple and Samsung. Apple had sought $2.2 billion in damages and Samsung had argued that any award should not exceed $38 million.
“It wasn’t a decision based on trying to send a message to one company or another,” added Dunham, a retired IBM supervisor from San Martin, California, who had the only tech and patent expertise on the jury. “It was based on the evidence that was presented to us.”
After a monthlong trial, the jury on Friday found that Samsung violated two of four patents in iPhone technology the panel was asked to consider, but rejected some of Apple’s claims against its South Korean tech rival and awarded far less in damages than Apple had sought.
In addition, the jury found that Apple violated one of Samsung’s patents, for camera folder technology, and ordered it to pay $158,000 in damages.
At the beginning of jury deliberations, the jury asked for more evidence on what Apple CEO Steve Jobs may have said about suing his rivals, Samsung and Google, which played a central role in the trial because of its Android operating system. Samsung argued that Google was the real target of Apple’s patent claims because it considered Android, which runs Samsung smartphones and tablets, copied technology.
Jurors said Monday that they wanted more evidence on the topic, particularly after Apple revealed that Google had agreed to pay the cost of some of Samsung’s legal defense if it lost. But because they did not receive that evidence, they were left with unanswered questions about Apple’s motivation for pressing its patent claims against Samsung.
“If they really feel Google is the cause behind this, then don’t beat around the bush,” Dunham said.
Added juror Margarita Palmada, a retired teacher from Santa Clara, California: “It’s something we’d like to know more about. To get more of a feel of why it had gone this way.”
The jury in the latest trial had a more tempered view of the Apple-Samsung rivalry than the jury that hit Samsung with nearly $1 billion in damages in the first trial between the companies in 2012 involving different patents and older lines of products. After that first verdict, the jury foreman said the damages amount was meant to send a message about copying technological innovations.
But this jury had no such message, Dunham insisted. He noted, however, that such patent conflicts can be damaging to the market, and expressed hope Apple and Samsung can settle their differences.
“Ultimately, the consumer is the loser in all this,” Dunham said. “I’d like to see them find a way to settle. I hope this (verdict) in some way helps shape that future.”
Photo: Glenn Chapman via Flickr